Business Solutions For Every Client's Needs

Our wide range of Training & Audit services helps companies build, grow, and improve performance

Psychosocial hazards can cause psychological and physical harm. On average, work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work. Managing the risks associated with psychosocial hazards not only protects workers, it also decreases the disruption associated with staff turnover and absenteeism, and may improve broader organisational performance and productivity.

 

How do psychosocial hazards cause harm?

Psychosocial hazards can create stress. Stress is the body’s reaction when a worker perceives the demands of their work exceed their ability or resources to cope.

Stress creates a physiological and psychological response in the body by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, raising the heart rate and blood pressure, boosting glucose levels in the bloodstream and diverting energy from the immune system to other areas of the body.

Stress itself is not an injury but if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe it can cause psychological and physical harm.

Some hazards cause stress when a worker is exposed to the risk of that hazard occurring as well as when they are directly exposed to the hazard itself. For example, workers exposed to workplace violence are likely to experience stress if they perceive that the risk has not been controlled, even if the violence does not occur again. In this situation, despite the hazard rarely occurring, the stress itself may be prolonged.

Consulting and Audits

Psychosocial hazards and the appropriate control measures may vary between workplaces and between groups of workers, depending on the work environment, organisational context and the nature of work.    WHS laws use the term plant to describe machinery, equipment, appliances, containers, implements and tools, any part of those things or anything fitted or connected to those things.

Psychosocial hazards are hazards that:

  • arise from or in relation to:
    • the design or management of work
    • the working environment
    • plant at a workplace, or
    • workplace interactions or behaviours; and
  • may cause psychological and physical harm.

Strategic Risk planning

Psychosocial hazards can create stress. Stress is the body’s reaction when a worker perceives the demands of their work exceed their ability or resources to cope.  Stress creates a physiological and psychological response in the body by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, raising the heart rate and blood pressure, boosting glucose levels in the bloodstream and diverting energy from the immune system to other areas of the body.

Stress itself is not an injury but if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe it can cause psychological and physical harm.   Some hazards cause stress when a worker is exposed to the risk of that hazard occurring as well as when they are directly exposed to the hazard itself. For example, workers exposed to workplace violence are likely to experience stress if they perceive that the risk has not been controlled, even if the violence does not occur again. In this situation, despite the hazard rarely occurring, the stress itself may be prolonged.

Managing PCBU and WHS Obligations

A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other persons are not exposed to risks to their psychological or physical health and safety. A PCBU must eliminate psychosocial risks in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise these risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

For more information see the Interpretive Guideline: The meaning of ‘reasonably practicable’.

Risk Safety services consulting

The WHS Regulations include specific requirements for PCBUs to manage risks arising from psychosocial hazards.  Under the WHS Regulations, to manage psychosocial risks, a duty holder must:

  • identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to psychosocial risks
  • eliminate risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks – minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable
  • maintain implemented control measures so they remain effective, and
  • review, and if necessary revise, control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

Program Controls & managment

In determining control measures to be implemented, a PCBU must have regard to all relevant matters, including:

  • the duration, frequency and severity of the exposure of workers and other persons to the psychosocial hazards
  • how the psychosocial hazards may interact or combine
  • the design of work, including job demands and tasks
  • the systems of work, including how work is managed, organised and supported
  • the design and layout, and environmental conditions, of the workplace, including the provision of:
    • safe means of entering and exiting the workplace
    • facilities for the welfare of workers
  • the design and layout and environmental conditions of workers’ accommodation
  • the plant, substances and structures at the workplace
  • workplace interactions or behaviours, and
  • the information, training, instruction and supervision provided to workers.
Psychological Safety Program | A Diversity Australia Initiative logo

© 2024 All Rights Reserved

© Copyright 2023 All rights reserved

Need Help To Maximize Your Business?

Reach out to us today and get a complimentary business review and consultation.